Wed Oct 16 3:58pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Oct. 6, 2019, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Kansas City, Mo. Mahomes has thrown 202 consecutive passes without an interception. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) scores a touchdown next to tight end Jordan Akins (88) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) reacts with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) does a flip as he celebrates a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
DENVER (AP) Keeping Patrick Mahomes on the sideline has worked wonders for Kansas City's opponents, providing a blueprint for the Broncos on Thursday night as they seek their first win over the Chiefs in four years.
''Every game has its own personality,'' cautioned Broncos coach Vic Fangio .
Every team also builds its own reputation, and the Chiefs (4-2) have a dud of a defense to go along with that firecracker offense. Exploit that and the Broncos (2-4) can jump right back into the AFC West race after their September stumble.
Over the past four weeks, the Chiefs, who have lost two in a row after a 4-0 start, have allowed an average of 190 rushing yards and 4.97 yards a carry as their opponents piled up eight TD runs.
''We have to fix it,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
The Chiefs have allowed a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive weeks, and it would have been five if not for the Raiders' Josh Jacobs' hydration problems - he finished with 99 yards on just 12 carries.
''I mean, look, there's just one area we don't feel great about and it's stopping the run,'' said first-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who has transitioned the Chiefs from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. ''We don't want to be looking at the number of run plays, the yardage they're putting up with runs - somehow, some way we have to figure it out. Until we stop it, we're going to see it.''
Up next are the Broncos, winners of two straight and the NFL's only team that sports two running backs each with at least 400 scrimmage yards. But if Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, who have accounted for 973 yards so far, are relishing the matchup, they're masking it pretty good.
''Every game in the NFL is tough,'' Lindsay said.
Freeman looked at the rushing totals the Chiefs have allowed the past four weeks: Ravens (203), Lions (186), Colts (180) and Texans (192), and shrugged.
''Every team goes out there and they make their adjustments week to week,'' Freeman said. ''You've got to assume they're going to go out there and try to switch things up. Plus, we have a short week, so you never know what to expect.''
Just look at Denver's defense , which found a quick fix to its run game problems. After allowing Leonard Fournette to go wild as the Jaguars piled up 269 yards on them, the Broncos allowed just 35 yards to the Chargers and 39 to the Titans.
''It's the NFL. Guys change things every week,'' Freeman said. ''Our defense has done a great job flipping the script.''
It's time for Denver's offense to do likewise, he added.
The Broncos are averaging just 17.6 points. Even during their two-game skid, the Chiefs averaged 18.5 points despite losing the time of possession by an average of 38 minutes to 22 minutes.
Other subplots as the Broncos try to snap a seven-game skid and beat Kansas City for the first time since Sept. 17, 2015:
Tyreek Hill had two TD grabs last week in his return from a broken collarbone. The Chiefs were without Sammy Watkins because of a hamstring injury, and they'll be missing him again against Denver, where DB Kendall Fuller (thumb), DT Chris Jones (core muscle), LT Eric Fisher (core muscle) and LG Andrew Wylie (ankle) are all out.
SANDERS GOOD TO GO
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders returns from a sore knee that knocked him out last week. Sanders has caught just two passes for 9 yards the past two weeks. Sanders' injury in his third in a year (ACL, ankle).
Reid and Fangio are the same age - 61. Reid is in his 28th NFL season, 21 as a head coach and is seeking his 200th regular-season win. Fangio is in his 33rd NFL season but first as a head coach. ''He's one of the special defensive minds of the game,'' said Reid, who knows all about Fangio's reputation.
Mahomes is 2-0 in Denver, winning his first career start on Dec. 31, 2017, when he left a 24-10 lead to No. 3 QB Tyler Bray but returned to salvage a 27-24 win with a last-minute field-goal drive. Last year, he led the Chiefs to a 27-23 win with more fourth-quarter heroics and his famous left-handed throw to avoid a sack.
Von Miller isn't the Broncos' sacks leader. It's backup DE DeMarcus Walker, who has three sacks after getting just one in each of his first two seasons. His first came against Mahomes when both were rookies.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson was benched by head coach Kliff Kingsbury in the Week 10 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in favor of RB Kenyan Drake. Johnson lost a fumble in the third quarter and Kingsbury like what he saw from Drake. 'We just felt like with Drake, needed to get something going and kept him rolling,' Kingsbury said Monday, Nov. 11. 'The last couple weeks, practices, games (he) has brought a little pop to the run game, the pass game, and we felt like he was the guy to try and close the game out with.'
Fantasy Spin: Kingsbury added that the decision was his and had nothing to do with Johnson's recent rash of injuries. He said he'll figure out the best role for both Johnson and Drake over the next few weeks. It's bad news for Johnson's fantasy owners, as he already has struggled to live up to his early-round draft status.
Arizona Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds (hamstring) has missed the past two games, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he is uncertain for Week 11 against the San Francisco 49ers. 'I would expect him hopefully in the near future,' Kingsbury said.
Fantasy Spin: Edmonds will return to the crowded backfield with Kenyan Drake and David Johnson both considered the top two backs. He had his chance to shine in New York when Johnson was hurt and Drake not yet on the team, but he was injured and will now return to a logjam with minimal fantasy appeal.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) will not return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks due to an injury suffered to his ribs in the first half.
Fantasy Spin: With Sanders on the shelf it will be Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel expected to pick up the slack in the pass game among the tight ends, especially with leading receiver TE George Kittle also inactive.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (groin) has been ruled out for the rest of the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Nov. 11 after suffering a groin injury in the first half.
Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the Week 10 game against the San Francisco 49ers and he will not return.
San Francisco 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) suffered an apparent injury to his right rib cage area in the first half of the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks. He pulled up on a route and was seen grabbing at the area during the telecast before leaving for the locker room. Sanders is questionable to return.
Fantasy Spin: It's a shame for Sanders and the 49ers, who just acquired him. Kendrick Bourne and Deebo Samuel should see more targets among the wideouts.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones (groin) left the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half due to a groin injury and he is questionable to return.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Emmanuel Ogbah (pectoral) is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Week 10, according to a source.
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson (calf) is considered day-to-day because of the calf injury he suffered in Week 10.
Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks (concussion) will not be able to play in the Week 11 game.
Fantasy Spin: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds will continue to be the top three receivers for the Rams. Woods and Kupp are must-start options in fantasy leagues, but Reynolds could be benched if fantasy players have better options available.
Minnesota Vikings CB Trae Waynes (ankle) is expected to be available for the Week 11 game after he was inactive for Week 10.
Free-agent DTs Carl Davis (Colts), David Parry (Patriots) and Justin Ellis (Raiders) worked out for the Green Bay Packers Monday, Nov. 11.
Free-agent QB Tanner Lee (Jaguars), WR JJ Nelson (Raiders), OG Larry Allen Jr. (Chargers), PK Elliott Fry (Ravens) and P Kaare Vedvik (Jets) were among the players that worked out for the New York Giants Monday, Nov. 11.
Updating a previous report, Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper (knee) has been diagnosed with a sprained medial collateral ligament and will miss some time. He is scheduled to receive a second opinion on the injury to determine how much time he will miss.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL this season, so fantasy players should monitor the situation to see when he may be able to return. Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham will see more playing time, but neither players should be fantasy options.
Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (foot) may be sidelined for two weeks because of the foot sprain he suffered during the Week 10 game, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: It seems like Freeman will miss at least one game because of the injury, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation. Brian Hill will receive most of the work while Freeman is sidelined and can be a No. 2 running back or flex option.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (knee) is officially active for the team's Week 10 game.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is coming off a disappointing Week 10 performance and probably will only see a handful of touches this week. He can be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
Seattle Seahawks WR Josh Gordon (ankle) is officially active for the team's Week 10 game.
Fantasy Spin: Gordon has been with the Seahawks for a little over a week, so he may see limited snaps this week against the San Francisco 49ers. Fantasy players probably should see him play in a game before considering him as a starting option.
San Francisco 49ers PK Robbie Gould (quadriceps) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 10 game.
Oakland Raiders LB Marquel Lee (ankle) participated in practice Monday, Nov. 11. He is currently on the Reserve/Injured list.